Contents of this issue:
  • Detroit schools might have to repay $1.3 million to feds
  • Michigan ranks last in graduating black males
  • Bay City high schools switch to trimesters
  • Schools adjust to rising fuel costs
  • State adopts AYP 'growth model'

DETROIT — A report from the U.S. Department of Education recommends that Detroit Public Schools be required to pay back at least $1.3 million in misused funds, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The report from the Office of the Inspector General found that from 2004-2006 the district did not properly report its spending of federal funds aimed at helping low-income students. DPS may also be required to pay up to $52 million more if it is not able to track down additional records, the Free Press reported.

District and state Department of Education officials claim that DPS does not owe anything. Department of Education spokeswoman Jan Ellis said many of the records have been found.

"We hope to be able to resolve almost all of it," Ellis told the Free Press.

Detroit Free Press, "U.S. report says DPS must repay $1.3 million," July 23, 2008 807230340

Michigan Education Digest, "DPS overspending pegged at $408 million for 2009," June 27, 2008

Michigan Education Digest, "DPS sues former employees for allegedly issuing illicit contracts," July 10, 2008

DETROIT — A national report found that Michigan has the lowest graduation rate for black males in the country, with Detroit Public Schools graduating the second lowest number of black males when compared to other large urban districts, according to The Kalamazoo Gazette.

The Schott Foundation for Public Education's report, "Given Half a Chance: The Schott 50 State Report on Public Education and Black Males," found that Michigan graduates 33 percent of black males, compared to 47 percent nationwide. Michigan graduates 74 percent of white males, which is just one percentage point lower than the national figure. Detroit Public Schools graduates 20 percent of black males and 17 percent of white males, The Gazette reported.

North Dakota led the country by graduating 89 percent of its black male population, according to The Gazette.

Kalamazoo Gazette, "State worst in grad rate for black males," July 27, 2008 32408219340.xml&coll=7&thispage=1

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "How Ideology Perpetuates the Achievement Gap," Feb. 2, 2005

BAY CITY, Mich. — Bay City Public Schools will move to a trimester system in its high schools starting in 2009-2010, according to The Bay City Times.

The schools will move to three 12-week terms, as opposed to the current two 18-week semesters. The switch will allow students to take 15 classes per year, instead of the standard 12 under the semester system. The district decided to change schedules as an adjustment to the new state graduation requirements, which leave little time for elective courses or for making up failed courses, The Times reported.

The Bay City Times, "Bay City high schools to switch to trimesters as answer to Michigan's curriculum requirements," July 27, 2008

Michigan Education Report, "New high school graduation requirements in action" May 6, 2008

WATERFORD, Mich. — School districts across Oakland County are adjusting their budgets and enacting cost-saving measures to cope with rising fuel prices, according to Spinal Column Online.

"Individual districts are working on ways to reduce their operational costs by consolidating bus runs and routes, reducing bus idling times, examining bus stop locations and reviewing their operational practices to determine other cost-saving measures," Lori Richardson, program director of transportation services for the Oakland Intermediate School District, told Spinal Column Online. "Oakland Schools is continuing to work with districts to evaluate their transportation operations and assist them in implementation of cost-cutting measures whenever possible."

Last fall the ISD consolidated some of its special education bus routes and eliminated a 15-minute window where buses would idle. The measure saved the county schools about $3.5 million, Spinal Column Online reported.

Some districts are also participating in a fuel consortium. The Macomb/Oakland Fuel Consortium Aggregate Bus Fuel Purchasing Program allows schools to band together to purchase bus fuel at lower prices. Individual districts are consolidating runs or seeing transportation savings from new all-day kindergarten programs, according to Spinal Column Online.

Spinal Column Online, "Schools consider changes to deal with rising fuel costs," July 29, 2008 Schools_consider_changes_to_deal_with_rising_fuel_costs.html

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Empirical Studies on Cost Reduction," in "A School Privatization Primer," June 26, 2007

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan schools now get credit for students who have made headway in reading or math — but still are not proficient — in their effort to meet the academic bar set by the No Child Left Behind Act.

Called a growth model, the new system allows students who have not reached proficiency on state standardized tests, but who are "on trajectory" to reach proficiency within three years, to be counted favorably in NCLB calculations. Until now, only students who reached proficiency could be counted.

The new formula will make it easier for some schools to make "adequate yearly progress" and avoid sanctions under NCLB, although only a relatively small number of students are involved, according to the Michigan Department of Education. Nationwide, critics of NCLB have long said that schools deserve credit for improvement, not just proficiency, while others say that NCLB provisions already have been watered down enough.

Michigan Education Report, "Michigan adopts NCLB 'growth model,'" July 29, 2008

Michigan Education Report, "'A PLUS' plan would permit states to opt out of NCLB," Aug. 15, 2007

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "NCLB Falls Short of Helping Parents," Aug. 24, 2007

MICHIGAN EDUCATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (, an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Sarah Grether at

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